Karol: A Man Who Became Pope

July 22, 2014

karolSome months ago, I saw on TV a few scenes from a film about the life of Pope John Paul II, but I didn’t have the time to watch it then, so I planned to watch it someday. Recently, I had a little spare time, after a tiring week of exams, therefore I searched the film mentioned above on Youtube and learned more about the man behind his sacerdotal position. I remember that I have seen Pope John Paul II a few times on TV and what impressed me the most was when he leaned to kiss the ground, after arriving in Bucharest in 1999. Even though I’m not Catholic, I perceived the pope as a kind and open-hearted person, who wouldn’t have scorned or uttered a rude word to anyone.

Karol: A Man Who Became Pope (Karol – Człowiek, który został Papieżem) is a 2005 TV miniseries directed by Giacomo Battiato and stars Polish, Italian, French, German and Canadian actors. The script is based on Gian Franco Svidercoschi’s book, entitled Storia di Karol, and focuses on the life of Karol Wojtyla, from the time he was a student in Cracow till his election as Pope.

The film opens in 1939, in Nazi occupied Poland, where Jews and Poles are tortured or killed on the spot, due to their race or just because their culture was considered inferior to that of the Germans. The tumult of the war and the horrors of the regime could have made anyone lose not only his faith, but also his sanity. However, Karol (Piotr Adamczyk), a 19-years-old student passionate of writing, theatre and sports, has a revelation one night, when he accidentally enters in the house of a tailor, who tells him not to lose faith in God because the Nazis can be defeated only with love, not with guns, and that “The Nazis will disappear, because evil devours itself”. But if love doesn’t win, evil will return in a different form. These simple words of wisdom have a big impact on Karol, who decides to give up on his theatrical career and his affection for Hania (Malgoisa Bela) for a life dedicated to God. At first, he is not sure if he has chosen this path because he wanted to hide himself from the chaos of the war or if this is his calling, but later on he understands that this path was the best he could find.

Even before thinking of priesthood, we see Karol as an altruistic person and a patriot, because he doesn’t shy away from popehelping the people in need and wants to enroll in the army not long after the war breaks out. He, along with his friends, tries to keep Polish culture alive by secretly performing plays and reading Polish poems in an improvised theatre. After Karol becomes priest, he promotes the idea that people shouldn’t respond to violence with hate and aggressiveness, but with love and kind words. He is kind and forgives everyone who plotted against him, including the spy sent by the communist regime or the Nazis whose atrocities depopulated Poland and forced many of its remaining inhabitants to flee to the US. For these acts of forgiveness, I believe that one must love people very much and anyone with such a big heart deserves the best things life can give. And life really gave Karol Wojtyla the chance to preach the Word of God.  And the rest is history.

Before ending this review, I have to say that the scenes are very realistic, violent and, overall, not for the faint-hearted or for those easily disturbed by blood. I usually don’t like films about the Second World War, but this one was too tempting to refuse. Even if the war scenes left a bitter taste in my mouth because similar things – or even worse – actually happened, this film made me understand that faith and hope are two essential survival tools in moments of crisis. Pope John Paul II taught us that love can change the world and make it a better place. Little by little.

by Alina Andreea Cătărău

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2 Responses to Karol: A Man Who Became Pope

  1. lara ann garcia on December 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I felt that he was the pope of the masses…he understood the importance of justice and getting it not through violence but through peaceful means…he was both brave and courageous…he fought the war but he was not happy doing it…he was my pope…it was heartbreaking when i heard on the news that he was dying… i forgot that he was also human and would die like the rest of us…he was kind and forgiving and tireless in reaching out to young people (world youth day)… he is missed:)

    • Alina Andreea Catarau on December 7, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Your words are very touching and it is truly amazing how many people still miss him. I don’t know too much about Pope John Paul II, but the movie gave me a glimpse of his harsh life and his struggle to make this world a better one.

      Thank you very much Lara for dropping by!

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